Weird night at the Met as baritone is replaced midway

The baritone Mariusz Kwiecien fell ill during Act One of Pearl Fishers and had to be replaced at the break.

It was a Metropolitan Opera debut for his stand in, Alexander Birch Elliot.

The soprano Pretty Yende writes:
Last night was truly special in more ways than one. Alexander Birch Elliott made his last minute debut after our dear Colleague Mariusz Kwiecien fell ill in the first act. I can testify that with all the love from the global audience, the way The Metropolitan Opera House audience welcomes a new artist is unbelievably unique. It brought incredible sweet memories 💞 Congratulations Alexander, you were a force of nature and thank you for an unbelievably wonderful duet. It was truly special to do that scene with you without any rehearsal whatsoever together. Wishing our Mariusz Kwiecien a speedy recovery and looking forward to having him back soon, what a privilege to witness history and the bloom of someone’s journey…

Debutant takes a bow.


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  • Giovanni Martinelli once fell ill at the Met just as he was singing Celeste Aida. The curtain came down and after a long delay the opera re-commenced with Frederick Jagel as Radames. As I recall the story it was a Met broadcast, and Jagel was listening at his nearby apartment and when it was announced that Martinelli was indisposed, he immediately got a cab to the Met. Some versions of the story say that Martinelli had almost finished the aria but my father was listening to the broadcast and told me that the aria had barely begun, and after the delay the opera began again after the conclusion of Celeste Aida, meaning that the “biggest hit” of the opera was not heard that afternoon in its entirety.

    • Almost; it was Domingo (singing Siegmund, not Siegfried) who got replaced in the middle of Act 1 of Walkure by Gary Lehman, and it happened in 2009, not 2014.

      This also isn’t the first time Kwiecien backed out mid-performance at the Met; he did the same thing during two different performances of Don Giovanni last year (once after the first act, and the other time after the first scene), and was replaced on both occasions by Michael Todd Simpson.

  • I was there! What an exciting evening. Nothing better than some unexpected drama to add to the planned drama! Well done to Mr. Elliot.

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